Guidance

Service of documents and taking of evidence

How to serve legal documents overseas and take evidence abroad.

Overview

Enquiries about serving documents overseas should be directed to the Foreign Process Section (FPS) at the Royal Courts of Justice. FPS will advise whether your documents need to be submitted via our diplomatic channels.

Service of process

Contact details for FPS

Foreign Process Section
Room E16
Royal Courts of Justice
Strand
London WC2A 2LL

If you need to serve documents through our diplomatic channels, then you must pay a Consular Fee to the Foreign & Commonwealth Office (FCO) for this service. The fee is £150. Please telephone the Service of Process payment line on 020 7008 4126 to make payment by credit or debit card.

How your documents are processed overseas

Once you have paid the consular fee, you will need to contact the Foreign Process Section who will advise you on how to submit the documents to them for service of process.

Once FPS has received and processed your documents, they will be forwarded to the FCO in London. Please allow 10 working days for the FCO to process your documents. The documents will then be sent to the relevant British Embassy/High Commission overseas. You should allow at least two weeks travel time for this to happen.

When the British embassy or high commission receives the documents, they will be passed to the host country’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs. You should allow 10 working days for this to happen. The host country’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs will arrange for service locally.

After the documents have been passed to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs the process is out of our hands. We cannot influence how quickly or whether the documents are served. We regret that we are not resourced to chase updates on your case.

What you should do in the documents process from abroad

  • check with the Foreign Process Section first to establish how your documents can be served
  • each country has different requirements, so please contact the Foreign Process Section for details on the country you wish to serve in
  • provide 2 x identical duplicate sets of documents. Ensure that both sets of documents are identical otherwise they will be returned to you
  • check with FPS whether you need to provide translated copies of your documents. If yes, provide 2 x identical duplicate sets of translations of the documents if necessary
  • provide full and complete addresses for the documents to be served. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs often return documents marked ‘unable to serve due to an incomplete address’, eg addresses with PO Box numbers
  • criminal cases are dealt with by the Home Office

Taking of Evidence in a UK Court

Documentary Evidence

Enquiries about taking of evidence overseas should be directed to the FPS at the Royal Courts of Justice. See contact details above. FPS will advise if your documents need to be submitted via our diplomatic channels.

If the documents are to be sent through diplomatic channels, you must pay a Consular Fee to the FCO for this service. The fee is £150. Please telephone the Service of Process payment line on 020 7008 4126 to make payment by credit or debit card. We do not accept any other form of payment.

What you should do in the documentary evidence process

  • once you have paid the FCO Consular fee, you will need to contact the Foreign Process Section who will advise you on how to submit the documents to them for taking of evidence
  • once FPS has received and processed your documents, they will be forwarded to the FCO in London. Please allow 10 working days for the FCO to process your documents. The documents will then be sent to the relevant British Embassy/High Commission overseas. You should allow at least two weeks travel time for this to happen
  • when the British Embassy/High Commission receives the documents, they will be passed to the host country’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs. You should allow 10 working days for this to happen. The host country’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs will arrange for the evidence to be taken and recorded.
  • after the documents have been passed to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs the process is out of our hands. We cannot influence how quickly the evidence will be taken and recorded. We regret that we are not resourced to chase updates on your case

Enquiries regarding video link usage should be emailed to SOPEnquiries@fco.gov.uk with brief details of the case. Your enquiry may need to be sent to an embassy or High Commission for guidance and this can take time.

Please provide the following information

  • the names and addresses of the parties to the proceedings and their representatives
  • the nature of the proceedings for which the evidence is required, giving a full summary of the pending action
  • the names and addresses of the persons to be examined
  • the evidence to be obtained or other judicial act to be performed
  • the specific questions to be put to the persons to be examined or specific statement of the subject matter about which they are to be examined
  • if documents are to be produced a specific list of the documents is required
  • video link enquiries should be made prior to arranging court dates as the FCO may need to check with the Embassy or High Commission in the destination country. This takes time.
  • criminal cases are dealt with by the Home Office

Service of documents to and from other countries, and requests for taking evidence in and from other countries, are governed by:

Each country has different requirements, so please contact the Foreign Process Section for details.

European Judicial Network in civil and commercial matters

FCO contact details for Service of Documents and Taking of Evidence

Premium Service Legalisation Office
Foreign & Commonwealth Office
King Charles Street (Sanctuary Buildings)
London
SW1A 2AH

Published 22 March 2013
Last updated 21 October 2016 + show all updates
  1. New Foreign Office contact details for service of documents and taking of evidence
  2. The fee for Taking of Evidence in a UK Court has increased from £130 to £150, with effect from 6 April 2016
  3. Change to a phone number rather than the Service of Process phone number to 0207 008 4126
  4. Text amended to reflect fact that printing is no longer available. In addition one the phone numbers has changed.
  5. First published.